Why The Cardinals Can’t Trade Colby Rasmus

…even if they want to.

Does anyone recognize this player?

Centerfielder.
Former top prospect, ranked as one of the top 5 in baseball at one time.
Great plate discipline (11% walk rate), but strikes out at a high rate (20+%).
Batting average hovers around .250.
Above-average power, posting around a .160 to .180 ISO.
Called out in the past for “attitude” issues.

Oh, you were thinking of Colby Rasmus? Sorry, I was describing B.J. Upton.

Colby Rasmus is an alluring player. In 2009, he was rated by Baseball America as the third best prospect in all of baseball, sandwiched between current stars David Price (#2) and Tommy Hanson (#4). That’s what happens when you’re a center fielder and you hit 29 homeruns in Double-A; everyone goes bananas about your potential.

But since then, Rasmus has generally failed to live up to expectations. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still been a great player — it’s not every day that a 22-year-old hits 16 homeruns and posts a 2.8 WAR season as a rookie. Rasmus followed that up with a spectacular year last season, hitting 23 homeruns and posting a .366 wOBA, before slumping back down to a .327 wOBA so far in 2011. He’s still an above-average center fielder and is on pace for just under a 3 WAR season, but Rasmus has yet to develop into the All-Star talent so many people expected.

Again, sound familiar?

As Dave Cameron pointed out in the trade value post yesterday, that’s the real problem with Rasmus: potential vs. production. Rasmus now has over 1400 plate appearances in the majors, and his skill set is becoming increasingly clear. He’ll walk around 10% of the time, strike out around 20% of the time, and steal a handful of bases each season. Unless he posts an extraordinarily high BABIP (like last season’s .354 BABIP), his batting average will fall around .250. Power is still his strength, and it’s possible that he could match last season’s 23 homeruns and .222 ISO again, but it’s looking more and more like he’s a 17 homeruns per season guy rather than 25.

Does Rasmus still have potential? Of course. Is he still valuable, even as just a 3.0 WAR centerfielder? For sure. But my point is this: it will be difficult for the Cardinals to get a fair return for him, as there is so much uncertainty about his peak value. The Cardinals are going to want to get a return back for him that factors in Rasmus’s potential, while other teams are going to be hesitant to pay that much for a player that is looking more and more like he may never reach that potential. Unless the Cards are willing to sell low on Rasmus, they’re likely stuck with him.

There are so many different comparisons you can make with Rasmus. Over the last year, he’s posted a .332 wOBA — very, very similar to Hideki Matsui, Coco Crisp, and Johnny Damon. Over his career, his offense has been 9% above average; Brett Gardner has been 7% above average and B.J. Upton has been 8%. He’s still only 24-years-old and could break out at any time, but at the same time, there have been many top prospects that have never reached the ceiling expected of them.

So how much patience do the Cardinals have? How likely do they think it is that Rasmus will reach his ceiling? It’d be a bad idea for them to sell low of Rasmus right now, but it’d also be a poor idea for another team to offer a package for Rasmus based on his potential. As much as Rasmus may frustrate the Cards, odds are they’re stuck with him for now.

We hoped you liked reading Why The Cardinals Can’t Trade Colby Rasmus by Steve Slowinski!

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Brian
Guest
Brian

As a Cardinals fan, the thought of them making a deal similar to the Braves swap of Yunel Escobar last season – a young player with demonstrated ability having a poor season for an overrated veteran – is scary.

Noxage
Guest
Noxage

The fact that the Jays have a glaring need in CF should scare you even more. The fact that AA has made public comments this year regarding the potential acquisition of players of this exact ilk should have you downright terrified.

Omar Little
Guest
Omar Little

Oh yeah, I’m sure he’s really scared. haha AA is a god. GTFO of here.
If the Cardinals are willing to give him up the conversation STARTS with Lawrie.

Noxage
Guest
Noxage

His body of work speaks for itself.

Lewis
Guest
Lewis

Lawrie > Rasmus IMO

EarlSweatshirt
Guest
EarlSweatshirt

Toronto fans are making me dislike AA, which sucks because the guy is obviously one of the top GMs in the game. The dickriding of a GM is the lowest form of internet dickriding.

Kid That Killed Omar
Guest
Kid That Killed Omar

@Earl

Right, because a fan base boisterously pimping one of their assets is something new. Get a grip.

Omar Little
Guest
Omar Little

Oh yes, quite a body of work. Another 4th place finish lol How impressive. lol

Noxage
Guest
Noxage
slamcactus
Guest
slamcactus

If the conversation starts with Lawrie, the conversation ends. Lawrie is major league ready as soon as he’s healthy. You don’t give up a guy’s full club control for the arbitration years of a similarly talented player.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11

We only need to look at SEA as a cautionary example of not getting carried away with optimism following one off-season.

We also rushed to judge ARZ as the “loser” of to trades … two trades that have paid off well for them.

AA is going to be able to make a “Wells deal” very often, just as other GMs have found it difficult to continue their “mastery”.

I don;t blame Jays fans for being excited. How could they not be? But the expectation that AA will always get the better of the deal, or continue to make deals that pan out is unrealistic.

Lewis
Guest
Lewis

@CircleChange

What did Jack Z do that even remotely compares to the Wells deal or the Bautista extension? Those are probably the 2 best moves in the entirety of baseball over the past 5 years.

Throw in the Morrow and Escobar heists as well as taking a bottom 5 farm and taking it to a top 3 farm in 2 years and it’s really not a valid comparison.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11

I’m talking about the optimism, not necessarily comparing the deals made.

As I said, AA isn’t going to be able to make repeatable “Wells deals”. That’s the best deal he’ll ever make. Everything from here on out is probably “regression”. See Billy Beane for how it tends to work.

Epstein is a great example … very good moves and development early on, but only sustained through major payroll increases.

All I’m really saying is let’s not expect AA to rip off every team from here on out, which is what the initial response implied.

AA has done an outstanding job.

Statement
Guest
Statement

@ Omar Little,

Burn dude, Burn.

This conversation ENDS with me telling you that you are a tool.

Josh
Guest
Josh

A young player demonstrating a cancerous attitude, with diva attributes causing a rift with management and players for a strong defensive overrated veteran. You left that part out. Otherwise that deal wouldn’t have made much sense. I hated Escobar from day one. What kind of played kicks dirt and complains about getting a fielding error.

Benjamin
Guest
Benjamin

a very solid, 3-5 win shortstop

JT Grace
Guest
JT Grace

If the Braves still had Escobar they possibly could be tied with the Phillies right now. The Braves have one of the worst hitting players in major league baseball at shortstop right now (and they are an injury away from fielding a team with Julio Lugo). This was a stupid, stupid trade for the Braves. Escobar should have been one of the building blocks for the team, not traded for scrap heap material.

Brad
Guest
Brad

As a Cards fan all my life who bleeds red, I can tell you we think the same thing of Rasmus. My family has had dealings with him in Springfield where he played AA ball. He is a rude, spoiled, prima donna. I guess you have that right with a 4 million dollar signing bonus. We love big heart players who give everything they have on the field. Trade that sand bagging turd. He never plays as hard as he can. His potential is really high, too bad he is a head case that will never reach it. We like and respect Jon Jay way more than Colby Rasmus. He is a club house cancer. We would be greatful for Jeremy Hellickson or James Shields from the Rays. MAKE THE DEAL!

chuckb
Guest
chuckb

I agree x 1 million!